By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A convicted child killer, branded among the "worst of the worst" by a state clemency official, is scheduled for execution in Arizona on Thursday for the 1988 murder of a nine-year-old girl.
Richard Lynn Bible, 49, has been ordered put to death by lethal injection at 11 a.m. local time inside the death house at the state prison in Florence, Arizona, about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix, state prison officials said.
Bible has spent more than two decades on death row since he was convicted of snatching Jennifer Wilson from her bicycle in Flagstaff, Arizona, molesting her and bludgeoning her to death.
His last-ditch appeals sought to postpone his execution to allow for DNA testing on hairs found at the crime scene that were used against him during his trial.
On Monday, the state's executive clemency board also refused to grant Bible a temporary delay or commute his sentence to life in prison without parole.
Duane Belcher, the board's chairman and executive director, told Reuters he believed the gruesome murder of Wilson ranks Bible as one of the Arizona's worst criminals.
On the morning of June 6, authorities say, Bible was driving in his truck along a forest road when he forced Wilson off her bicycle and abducted her. He took the youth to a hill near his home and sexually assaulted her.
Bible then savagely killed Wilson by beating her face and head with a blunt instrument, authorities said. Her body was not found until June 25 despite a massive search.
Hikers found her naked body atop the hill, hidden under branches and debris near a tree, according to court records. Her hands were bound behind her back with one of her shoelaces.
Bible was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and child molestation in April 1990 after a month-long trial.
He would be the third inmate to be put to death in Arizona this year. In May, the state executed Donald Edward Beaty, 56, for the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in 1984.
Arizona has executed 26 people since the death penalty was reinstated in 1992. There are 130 people on the state's death row.
Twenty-four people have been executed in the United States so far this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Jerry Norton)